Where Would We Be Without Our “Other Mothers”?

woman carrying baby on back
Briona Lamback
May 9, 2024

Patricia Hill Collins coined the term “othermothers” to describe the women who support biological mothers and informally share mothering responsibilities with them. Other times they may be the only mothering we receive at all. Sometimes, they are grandmothers, godmothers, and aunties. Throughout history, these other mothers played an essential role in caring for their communities.

Queen Mothers 


  Across many pre-colonial African cultures, Queen Mothers were community mothers bestowed with immense power and commanding respect. In places like Benin, they were instrumental in the protection and well-being of the kingdom. Queen Mothers like Ghana’s Yaa Asantewaa even went to war when colonizers thought they could just walk off with her people’s venerated Golden Stool.

Granny Midwives 


  Midwives were sacred healers who possessed generations of ancestral knowledge that helped them care for pregnant women and deliver babies during enslavement. Many doulas are still doing this crucial work today.

Church Mothers 


  For many Black congregations, Church Mothers are revered leaders. They are foundational, wise teachers and the trusted guardians of the church’s traditions and spirit.

We’ve always been a communal people, so we naturally lean on one another for support. Whether it’s a neighbor, cousin, or teacher, let’s celebrate all the othermothers responsible for shaping who we are today.

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